‘You cannot defy reality’: Cuomo holding ’emergency summit’ with neighbor states on COVID-19 action

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf take part in a regional cannabis and vaping summit in New York City
At an October 2019 press conference (from l. to r.): Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

With COVID-19 cases exploding nationwide and across the globe — and little help coming from the outgoing president — New York and six neighbor states Nare holding an “emergency summit” this weekend to create a joint action plan to stop the second wave’s spread, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.

“The bad news is that we are in the midst of a sea of COVID rising around us,” Cuomo told reporters during his Nov. 13 conference call, pointing to the rising number of infections across the U.S. and overseas in Europe, where countries are once again on lockdown.

New York’s statewide infection rate of 2.6% remains one of the lowest in the country but is steadily increasing — something that prompted Cuomo earlier this week to order earlier closings of restaurants, bars and gyms, as well as limits on household gatherings to no more than 10 people. The rising COVID-19 rate in New York City also prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to begin preparations for possible school closures as early as Monday.

When it comes to the second wave of COVID-19 in New York, Cuomo projects that things will get worse before they get better. The upcoming holidays will lead to indoor gatherings that may increase the spread of the disease, and while a COVID-19 vaccine is on the horizon, most New Yorkers will still need to wait many months before receiving it.

“You cannot defy reality, and reality is the virus transmits, and the virus is mobile, and we’re in the holiday season,” Cuomo said. “These are all elements that conspire to increase COVID. That is the fact. The numbers are going up, the numbers will go up. I take that as a fact.”

Getting the COVID-19 numbers down ahead of the vaccine’s availability is also essential toward the inoculation’s effectiveness, the governor added. Higher rates of infection would prevent the proper administration of the vaccine, especially at overwhelmed distribution points such as doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

The “emergency summit” this weekend involving Cuomo and the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Delaware will seek uniformity in policy across the region, the governor said. Following that summit, Cuomo said, additional measures to counter the COVID-19 spread across the region are likely.

“We want to make sure we can align policies as much as possible or at least be aware of what the other states’ policies are,” he added. “The ideal is alignment, that is not a reality because different states do have different situations. But we believe we’re going to have to take additional steps and to the extent we can share information and align action, we will do that.” 

Meanwhile, New York state hit yet another daily COVID-19 testing record on Nov. 12, Cuomo said, as 200,000 tests were completed. That’s a stark contrast from the start of the crisis back in March and April, the governor reminded, when the state didn’t have the ability to do more than 500 tests a day.

But on Nov. 12, 1,700 New Yorkers were hospitalized statewide with COVID-19, up 60 patients in 24 hours. Of those hospitalized, 331 are in intensive care and 137 are intubated.

Twenty-four New Yorkers died of the illness Thursday.